With the Maine woods in full autumn bloom, there is no finer time to wet a line: no bugs, less water traffic, cooling waters and moving fish. Fall fishing options abound. But the regulations vary from water to water. Check your law book closely. Here are the waters that our regional fisheries biologists suggest you consider, and they know where the fish are!
Sebago Lakes Region
In southern Maine, there is no shortage of late-season fishing opportunities. It used to be if you wanted to fish late in the season, you would fish the tidewater areas of the Mousam and the Ogunquit, but now anglers have a variety of choices.
“We have made a concerted effort to identify and target fall fishing waters,” said Deplartment of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife biologist Francis Brautigam. “For over three years, we have been stocking the Upper Mousam below the outlet of Mousam Lake, the Lower Royal below the dams in Yarmouth, and expanded opportunities on the Presumpscot for the entire year, not just the upper area. And all these rivers have very good access.”
Many of these waters receive stocked trout not in only in the spring, but a fall stocking as well. Waters that see a higher number of anglers are stocked periodically through the fall right into December.
“With the Mousam, Royal, and Presumpscot, we pretty much have covered the region,” said Brautigam.
If you want to fish area lakes and ponds, you may want to wait until early October. The department is now stocking larger fish in the fall, which seem to survive better in lakes with bass and pickerel.
Anglers who like to fish for landlocked salmon ought to look for areas with current. On Thompson Lake, the set of culverts near the heath is always a popular option. Shore angles may want to try Crystal Lake for rainbows off the town beach.
Central and Midcoast Area
Anglers who want to spend a productive day fishing ought to try a canoe trip down the Sebasticook River.
“The Sebasticook has been superb. Anglers are catching multiple bass in excess of 20 inches,” said department fisheries biologist Jason Seiders, who added that the Burnham section has been excellent. “Surface lures work well, as well as anything that imitates a juvenile alewife.”
Farther north on the Kennebec River, catches continue to be outstanding. Anglers are having a lot of success in the Bingham section, particularly bouncing nymphs off the bottom throughout the day.
A little lower on the Kennebec, there’s still browns to be caught in the Shawmut area, and the stocking truck will be delivering more brown trout to the Shawmut reach soon, once water temps cool.
Anglers are still boating a good number of togue and salmon in the region, as the water is still stratified with a defined thermocline in many of the region’s lakes.
“There’s still some very good fishing to be had,” says fisheries biologist Greg Burr. “It’s a beautiful time of year to be out on the water. Temperatures are getting cooler and there’s not as much boating activity.”
Along with salmon and togue, some anglers are still catching a good number of white perch. Anglers can find them in deeper water, schooled up. With surface water temps still in the low 70s, bass anglers are still recording good numbers of catches.
Of course if it’s fall salmon fishing you are thinking, most anglers think of Grand Lake Stream. As the water temps begin to cool down, salmon start moving into the river, setting the stage for some fantastic fly fishing.
There are myriad fall fishing opportunities in the Rangeley region, particularly if you enjoy fishing in rivers. The Kennebago, Magalloway and the Rapid are all very well known for their fall trout and salmon fishing.
“The cold mornings are cooling down the rivers, and fish are starting to move around, thinking about spawning,” said fisheries biologist Dave Howatt. “It’s a great time to be on these rivers.”
And if you don’t feel like wading, don’t forget about the lakes and ponds.
“Lake fishing often gets overlooked this time of year, but lakes and ponds can be very good. Fish are starting to stage in front of the rivers, and you can find quite a few in the deeper pockets close to the rivers,” said Howatt, who added that, this time of year, you are likely to only see a few boats instead of the dozens you might encounter early in the year.
While many waters will shut down on Oct. 1, there still are waters open to fishing such as Beal, Little Jim and Quimby Ponds, all of which have good access.
In the Moosehead Lake Region, it’s prime time for fishing.
“They just dropped the flow at the East Outlet this week after a week of high flows, so that should draw plenty of salmon into the river,” said fisheries biologist Tim Obrey. “This is one of our best river fisheries in the spring and fall, and now is a good time to try it.”
On the other side of the lake, the gates on the Roach River are open and it is flowing at 200 cfs, which is normal for this time of year. Look for brook trout to head into the river first, followed by a charge of salmon.
If you are looking for a bit of an adventure, head out to the West Branch of the Penobscot below Seboomook. Currently, flows are running around 750 cfs, which is a good flow to fish the area known as the “Foxhole.” Chesuncook salmon travel to this section of the river in September.
If you are looking for a place to go brook trout fishing, now is a great time to be in the Penobscot/Katahdin region.
“Most of our better brook trout waters are in Baxter Park. A lot of those are wild populations like Sourdnahunk, Katahdin, Daicy and Lower Fowler,” said fisheries biologist Nels Kramer. “Most of the ponds are fly fishing only, no live fish as bait, and the season ends on Sept. 30. There are some significant large fish in these ponds.”
If you are looking for some late season fishing, try Abol, Billfish, Celia, Draper or Rocky Pond (T2R9). Outside the park, you should try Island Pond, Wapiti, Davis and Lunksoos, which have an extended fall season.
If you’d rather fish the rivers, the East Branch of the Penobscot offers some great opportunities in the fall. There are wild brook trout and landlocks. The Mattawamkeag also offers some excellent fishing this time of year.
Cold weather has already hit much of the Aroostook region, with frost covering some fields earlier this week.
“Right now, the rivers and streams are at pretty low flows,” said fisheries biologist Frank Frost. “As the fall rains start, fishing should pick up.”
This time of year, the upper and lower sections of the Aroostook are productive, and the Fish River downstream of Eagle Lake is a popular spot for salmon. The rehabilitated portion of the Meduxnekeag River, where river habitat was improved, should also provide anglers with some great opportunities.
Waters to try should include Arnold Brook Lake in Presque Isle, Drews Lake in New Limerick, and Nickerson Lake outside of Houlton.